Watch SpaceX's rocket land itself

There's something so uncanny and futuristic about Falcon 9 landing that it triggers the part of our brains trained to be on the lookout for computer graphics. The overcast sky and haze of fog gives it a Simon Stålenhag vibe. Read the rest

Rhymes from a high-schooler's machine learning system trained on Kanye lyrics

Robbie Barrat is president and founder of their high school computer science club; they created Rapper-Neural-Network, a free software project that uses machine learning trained on a corpus of 6,000 Kanye West lines to autogenerate new rap songs. Read the rest

Skynet: Trump campaigned like a crappy AI, and now he's governing like one, too

Cathy "Weapons of Math Destruction" O'Neil nailed Trump's tactics when she compared him to a busted machine-learning algorithm, throwing a ton of random ideas out, listening for his base to cheer the ones that excited their worst instincts, and then doubling down on them. Read the rest

Libratus poker AI beats several of the world's best players

In a first, an artificial intelligence named Libratus has bested top-tier players at no-limit Texas Hold 'em. This is especially notable because imperfect information games are notoriously challenging to program. Read the rest

Beyond the Trolley Problem: Three realistic, near-future ethical dilemmas about self-driving cars

MIT Professor Emeritus of Robotic Rodney Brooks has published a thought-provoking essay on the most concrete, most likely ethical questions that will be raised by self-driving cars; Brooks is uninterested in contrived questions like the "Trolley Problem" (as am I, but for different reasons); he's more attuned to the immediate problems that could be created by selfish self-drivers who use their cars to get an edge over the people who drive themselves, and pedestrians. Read the rest

Researchers discover hundreds of thousands of unsuspected, Star Wars-themed twitterbots hiding in plain sight

Twitter is a great place for bots. Botherders like Shardcore produce amazing, politics, artistic bots that mine Twitter, inject useful information into Twitter, or just frolic on Twitter, making it a better place. Twitterbots produce entries in imaginary grimoires, conduct sociological research, produce virtual model railroads, alert the public when governments try to make bad news disappear, and much, much more. Read the rest

Marina Abramović and Kim Stanley Robinson perform "The Hard Problem," a performance-art podcast

"The Hard Problem" is a new episode of the Into The Impossible podcast from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination: it features the outcome of a collaboration between legendary performance artist Marina Abramović (previously) and environmentalist science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson (previously): a short story about an interstellar journey incorporating elements of Robinson's outstanding 2015 novel Aurora -- a novel that is pitiless in its insistence on rigor in our thinking about the problems of living in space and on other planets.

AI Alarmism: why smart people believe dumb things about our future AI overlords

Maciej Cegłowski (previously) gave this talk, "Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People," at Web Camp Zagreb last October, spending 45 minutes delving into the origin of the idea that computers are going to become apocalyptic, self-programming, superintelligent basilisks that end all live on Earth (and variations on this theme) and then explaining why this fundamentally evidence-free, fuzzy idea has colonized so many otherwise brilliant people -- including people like Stephen Hawking -- and why it's an irrational and potentially harmful belief system. Read the rest

This Bach chorale composed by machine learning is pretty good

Gaetan Hadjeres and Francois Pachet at the Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Paris created DeepBach, then entered Bach's 352 chorales. The resulting composition is certainly in the style. So why does this work better than some other attempts? Read the rest

Dive into Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence with this training bundle

Artificial Intelligence already has tons of applications in countless industries, making it an incredibly lucrative skill set. It’s an exciting time to get involved in AI, and this bundle is an excellent way to get familiar with a variety of machine learning concepts and techniques.

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A checklist for figuring out whether your algorithm is a "weapon of math destruction"

The Data & Society institute (dedicated to critical, interdisciplinary perspectives on big data) held an online seminar devoted to Cathy O'Neil's groundbreaking book Weapons of Math Destruction, which showed how badly designed algorithmic decision-making systems can create, magnify and entrench the social problems they're supposed to solve, perpetuating inequality, destabilizing the economy, and making a small number of people very, very rich. Read the rest

An AI wrote a Christmas song

It's not bad. In fact, this is a triumph: a Christmas song written entirely by an artificial intelligence at the University of Toronto. Yet it has that uncanny neural network je ne sais quoi in spades.

I swear it’s Christmas Eve I hope that’s what you say The best Christmas present in the world is a blessing I’ve always been there for the rest of our lives.
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Accelerando: once you teach a computer to see, it can teach itself to hear

In SoundNet: Learning Sound Representations from Unlabeled Video, researchers from MIT's computer science department describe their success in using software image-recognition to automate sound recognition: once software can use video analysis to decide what's going on in a clip, it can then use that understanding to label the sounds in the clip, and thus accumulate a model for understanding sound, without a human having to label videos first for training purposes. Read the rest

LipNet: lip-reading AI uses machine learning

Lip-reading algorithms have all sorts of real-world applications, and LipNet shows great promise in machine-learning lipreading of constructed sentences from the GRID sentence corpus. Read the rest

Google and Facebook's "fake news" ban is a welcome nail in the coffin of "software objectivity"

In the wake of the Trump election -- a triumph of fake news -- both Google and Facebook have announced that they will take countermeasures to exclude "fake news" from their services, downranking them in the case of Facebook and cutting them off from ad payments in Google's case. Read the rest

An "ahem" detector that uses deep learning to auto-clean recordings of speech

Train the Deep Learning Ahem Detector with two sets of audio files, "a negative sample with clean voice/sound" (minimum 3 minutes) and "a positive one with 'ahem' sounds concatenated" (minimum 10s) and it will detect "ahems" in any voice sample thereafter. Read the rest

Researchers trick facial recognition systems with facial features printed on big glasses

In Accessorize to a Crime: Real and Stealthy Attacks on State-of-the-Art Face Recognition, researchers from Carnegie-Mellon and UNC showed how they could fool industrial-strength facial recognition systems (including Alibaba's "smile to pay" transaction system) by printing wide, flat glasses frames with elements of other peoples' faces with "up to 100% success." Read the rest

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